Carshalton Athletic FC
Such untapped potential. What a team. Every summer, the first sign of a new football season rapidly approaching for the Stodgebusters has nothing to do with football. Surely this would be the year that team Come On You Rooks! would be a serious threat for some silverware as long as we kept away from the beer tent and the burgers? Captained, as always, by legendary Groundsman Roger, Roly, PJ, Gary the Badge, Colin and Chunky met up at The Grange Gardens in June for the annual Skittles Tournament.
Next up was an evening trip to Hastings for the strangely all-ticket friendly. They probably heard that we were going to be there. It was an enjoyable evening and there was no sign of the hooligans who turned up at the Pan earlier in the year. Hastings looked very useful and pinned us back for long periods but they lacked a finisher. It was excellent chips all round as we watched the Lewes boys nick a 1-0 victory thanks to a second half Hammo penalty. Four of us boarded PJs freshly MOTd Rookmobile for the drive to the Pilot Field. They really need someone like Billy Medlock (!).
Carshalton - Lewes FC
PJ got away without any bites, probably thanks to his David Beckham shower gel putting them off. Throughout the game we were fending off flying critters intent on eating us. Poor old Gary the Badge must have used the Norman Hunter version as his legs got bitten so bad he ended up at the hospital next day, legs bandaged and popping antibiotics. We wont forget East Grinstead in a hurry.
Because weve got Darren Freeman. So, as Stephen Gerrard takes over at Glasgow Rangers, who cares? And this programme can reveal the truth behind the rumour: there was never, repeat never, any prospect of our board even considering swapping our Manager. Many of you will have heard the rumour that Stevie Gs people had sounded out the board of Lewes FC about starting his career here at the Dripping Pan.
It was incredibly pleasing to agree new contracts for our management team Darren, Ross and Codge have done a fantastic job here and we were very pleased to see them want to continue the journey we are currently on. They have all worked incredibly hard on building a new squad and recorded a clean sweep of pre-season friendly wins, even with a few notable names missing.
MEET OUR NEW BOYS
We were not about to allow Lewes FC become a stepping stone, even for such an illustrious name as Gerrard. No. The bigger problem that exercised Lewes FC is what would happen if a bigger club came in for Darren? And, with the reputation the footballing industry has as a cut-throat business, there would be no guarantees that Gerrard would not be given the sack from the Pan, and a bag to put it in, in 2019. After all, every good Manager will boss Chelsea at some point in their career.
In addition, the ground boasts a good sized, if small in length, grandstand and plenty of standing room down the side of the pitch. Behind the north end is a small cover whilst at the south end the cover extends across the full length of the terrace. The club claim to serve the Best Burger in English Football from the new eatery in the corner of the pitch, next door to the club shop, both allowing you to watch the action whilst waiting to be served.
And, not simply because F appears before G in our alphabet, an insider has revealed Darren Freeman was higher in the get the right man thinking at Ibrox; thankfully all that is history now. The irony of this includes a counter rumour, namely that our Manager was one of the names on the Rangers list. After our 0-0 draw with Chipstead in April, the last time I saw Darren he was sinking a pint and letting his hair down in the Royal Oak, but naturally I couldnt get near him.
Carshalton is in Zone 5. Off-Peak returns cost around 20. Journey time from Lewes is 1 hour 50 mins if going via Victoria or 20 minutes less if you change at East Croydon and Mitcham Junction. Turn right, walk under the railway bridge and then left into Colston Avenue ground is 150 yards on your right. The station is only a few minutes walk from the ground take a right out of the exit and walk down the hill.
However, we welcome a host of new players, a new kit partner and a brand new bar! Weve seen the legend that is Chris Winterton hang up his gloves and off the pitch we have said goodbye to Kevin Miller. As with the start of all new seasons, there are plenty of changes to update you all. Weve seen some familiar faces move on, such as Gus Sow, Jamie Brotherton and Matthew George and we wish them all well.
Despite some heroic scoring from Roly and Colin the rest of us were, frankly, a bit of a letdown and, unlike England, we exited at the group stage and would not feature in the finals. Pre-season training will have to be more stringent next year. After many years we still havent worked out how a seemingly good bowl from one of us down the middle can go between all the skittles and score nowt whereas an opposing septugenarian can just nudge a skittle and they all go down like dominoes. Things didnt go exactly to plan.
If you are coming from the south via the M25 then take exit 7 signposted Croydon and follow the A23 past the old Croydon airport before taking a left after a few miles onto the A232. Carshalton is not the easiest place to get to from anywhere else apart from South London by car especially if you have to travel through Croydon which can be blocked by shoppers on a Saturday, and commuters in midweek.